Affiliate Marketing Guide: Getting Started, Finding Affiliates & Generating Sales

Imagine opening a brick-and-mortar store in the days before the internet. You’d need to get the word out about your new establishment to the people in your town, perhaps by placing an ad in the newspaper or hiring a salesperson to travel and demo your products; otherwise, your business wouldn’t stay open for very long.

The same holds true for merchants in the modern age of ecommerce, as well. Did you know that Search Engine Optimization and Pay-Per-Click Advertising aren’t the only way to increase traffic to your store? Another effective method is by using Affiliate Marketing!

What is an Affiliate?

An affiliate is a third party partner who helps drive sales leads to your store. In a nutshell, Affiliate Marketing is a combination of advertising and revenue sharing. An affiliate signs up at your store and is given an affiliate link that he or she shares with potential customers. If a customer visits that link and purchases something from your store, the affiliate gets a percentage of the revenue generated from that sale.

How Affiliates Promote Your Store

The avenues for promoting and spreading an affiliate link are limited only by the affiliate’s imagination. Here are some common examples of how an affiliate may share their link:

  • Affiliate is a well-known YouTube personality who uses or advocates for your products, and includes his or her affiliate link in the video description.
  • Affiliate travels to trade shows to promote your products, and hands out business cards with an affiliate link to potential customers.
  • Affiliate has a popular blog or widely-circulated newsletter where they display a banner that contains their affiliate link.
  • Affiliate emails the link directly to friends and family

Finding and Recruiting Affiliates

In order to make the program work, you’ll need to find some affiliates! It’s important to provide adequate incentive for a third party to partner with your store, as well as easy ways to join your affiliate program.

A super effective way to communicate those incentives is to create an article page on your store where you can share all of the important information pertaining to your affiliate program. Incentives for becoming an affiliate usually involve a percentage of sales that result from a customer purchasing from your store via a particular affiliate's link, but there are a number of other, perhaps less-obvious incentives. You can try enticing new affiliates by stressing the flexibility and entrepreneurial aspects of being an affiliate marketer!

There are a number of other ways you can advertise your affiliate program:

  • Promote affiliate sign-up on your website. Let you own customers spread the word for you! You can add a link to affiliate sign-up to your store’s homepage if one does not already exist.
  • Networking with other members or merchants in your community. This is especially useful if your store offers niche products or services a smaller group of people.
  • Aforementioned PPC Campaigns and Ads are also useful for spreading the word to potential affiliates as a way for them to make money selling your products.

However you decide to build your affiliate network, keep in mind that their job is to drive traffic to your store, so your job is to convert that traffic into a sale. We recommend keeping your store up-to-date with fresh content and products so your customers keep coming back on their own.

Foster Affiliate Relationships

Full time affiliate marketers - those who commit the majority of their time to promoting your products and will likely be drawing most of your affiliate traffic - are fiercely competitive and will always be looking for outlets that will make them the most money. For that reason, affiliate turnover rates can be high.

Conservative estimates state that 80% of your affiliate sales will be generated from only 20% of your affiliates, so it pays to to make your store a desirable partner for affiliates. These men and women will be brand ambassadors, and you want them to feel confident about what they’re selling, which in turn increases trust between your store and your customers.

Affiliate Terms and Payouts

Volusion's built-in Affiliate system makes it easy to set parameters for your Affiliates' revenue percentage, minimum commission before payout, and other important program details. With this in mind, be sure to clearly lay out your affiliate terms, such as what percentage of order revenue they are entitled to and the minimum commission they’re expected to generate before you’ll pay out to them. If you’ve already created an article page for your affiliate program as suggested above, this would be a good location to provide this information!

Another important thing to communicate is the number of days an affiliate link is tracked. In other words, how many days can pass after a customer first visits an affiliate link before the affiliate no longer gets credit for that sale. You wouldn’t want an affiliate expecting credit for a sale that was placed 45 days after a customer used their link if the maximum amount of days your store tracks affiliate links is 30!

Generating sales and traffic to your store can seem like a time-consuming task for just one person. By utilizing affiliate marketing, you can relieve many of those headaches, and concentrate on other aspects of your business. Just think of the additional tasks you could have time for once your affiliates are drawing more traffic to your store and helping generate more sales than you ever thought possible!

Have any questions about affiliate marketing? Let us know in the comments!